Cau­tion on troika goals

Coali­tion lead­ers iden­tify most po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive de­mands made by lenders

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras and Deputy Premier Evan­ge­los Venizelos met yes­ter­day to study the list of 19 ac­tions that the troika has de­manded from Athens, set­ting apart five on which they be­lieve the gov­ern­ment will have to pro­ceed cau­tiously.

The troika has asked for a range of re­forms to be car­ried out so the cur­rent re­view of the Greek pro­gram can be com­pleted be­fore the end of the year, paving the way for the eu­ro­zone to pro­vide Greece with a pre­cau­tion­ary credit line to exit its bailout. How­ever, the gov­ern­ment is con­cerned that some of the lenders’ de­mands are too po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive to be con­sid­ered at this stage.

Dur­ing yes­ter­day’s meet­ing the two lead­ers iden­ti­fied the bridg­ing of the 2015 fis­cal gap, re­lax­ation of re­stric­tions on mass dis­missals in the pri­vate sec­tor, changes to re­tire­ment cri­te­ria, in­creases to value-added tax and lifting of re­stric­tions on fore­clo­sures for pri­mary res­i­dences as the five ac­tions that have to be treated with ex­treme cau­tion.

The troika, how­ever, does not seem will­ing to back down. On the is­sue of pen­sion re­form, for in­stance, Kathimerini un­der­stands that the troika wants the re­tire­ment ages to in­crease for spe­cific groups that are ex­empt from the gen­eral rule. They also want the min­i­mum pen­sion to be avail­able to those who have worked for at least 20 years, rather than the cur­rent 15.

Sources said that troika of­fi­cials have ref­er­enced a re­port by the Cen­ter of Eco­nomic Plan­ning and Re­search (KEPE), which shows that only 21 per­cent of Greeks in­sured with the IKA so­cial se­cu­rity fund re­tire at 65 and most stop work­ing ear­lier.

Nev­er­the­less, a Euro­pean Union of­fi­cial in­di­cated yes­ter­day that troika of­fi­cials may re­turn to Greece as early as this week­end. He also sug­gested that there might be “limited flex­i­bil­ity” from the troika on some of the ac­tions, which could be shifted to next year, when Greece will still be bound by the terms of its credit line agree­ment even if it ac­cepts no fur­ther fund­ing from the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund.

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